Friday, Nov. 19, 2004 - 12:41 p.m.
Cost of the War in Iraq
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Who Needs A Contract Anyways???
**If you havent yet seen the halloween pictures i posted last night, go here!****
Oh god oh god oh god.
The negotiations for the women on New Years piece was done over the phone. Two days ago while filling out the invoice I realized I had not gotten anything written such as a purchase order, a contract etc. Nothing that states terms of the agreement. Nothing with even the address or name of the company.
Just the art director's name and contact info, ie "art director, blabla magazine, email, phone".
Um, that is now what I need to fill out a proper invoice that I expect to be paid. So I send an email Wed night. At 3am this morning I still hadn't heard anything so resent the email, and left a phone message asking her to call me. She was supposed to be sending a courrier for the drawing today before noon, ie while I was sleeping, so I didn't see when I'd have time to get this info.
Finally I woke up about 10am and called again, still no answer, so I spoke with the receptionist. She didn't know either, but said to just put the name of the magazine and gave me the street address. Note that very often the street address is not where to send the invoice, or where an invoice should be written to. Often there is a company name that is separate from who hires me (yay for umbrella conglomerates) and often art directors work out of design houses (whom I should invoice, not the actual client, or vice versa).
Seemed to me like normal information I should need right?
Well, when she finally returned my call (at 11:48 btw) she is like "well, why would it matter? and No, we NEVER send anything written, and NO we do NOT have a contract or purchase order" and acted like I was the biggest baby in the world to expect such a thing. And she was like "well, you could always send the invoice at a later date by post if I didnt get back to you" (um, let me see, I am taking on extra work so that I can get $ before Christmas, and you have 30 days payable if I"m lucky already?)
Let me see. Legally there is no transfer of copyright until it is signed over on a paper that clearly states copyright of WHAT, WHERE it is to be printed and in WHAT format. And their company (which is a huge magazine, owned by a huge media corporation that has about ten magazines including TV Guide etc!!) DOESNT send written work requests or a paper to sign??
She says "oh, well, we have the invoice so that is proof you are giving us copyright". Um not necessarily. I use the same invoice forms for one-off payments as for royalties where I get a percentage... it is not the invoice that matters it is the contract that the invoice refers to. And didn't she just say I could send the invoice at whatever nebulous time in the future after they already have the artwork??
She totally acted like I was asking to have a shoeshine with my job, or free shampoo samples or some frivolous thing. Maybe a lollipop, and not a legal document stating the terms of our agreement. And of course she said what all other people like this say: "well, no one else asks for anything written. All the other illustrators are fine with this.".
Can you say, "disaster waiting to happen". As well as illegal and unprofessional. The amount payable was stated ONCE on the phone, so I have nothing to forward to an accounting office etc. If they send me a check for $200 they could just say "oh you mustve misunderstood on the phone... yes you invoiced $450 but that's too much!" They could theoretically never use it, or use it for posters and book covers, internet etc ad nauseum since we have no paper stating they are going to use it in ONE magazine in ONE province for ONE printing in January 2005. On the other hand, if they printed it and hadn't gotten the invoice yet, I could probably sue them for misuse of copyright. Can we say legal quagmire?
It is so stupid. What is stupid is that she doesn't see anything wrong with working this way, the illustrators don't put their feet down, and when I do it is ME who is a problem. However, every time I have had problems with a client and DON'T have a written contract to refer to when I call for help, once again I am treated like an idiot who shouldve never done work without a signed purchase order or contract and it is ME who is the problem. Cripey.
I don't work for a lot of magazines, but some that I have worked for have the best contracts... they state clearly a kill fee. They state clearly that it is first exclusive rights they are buying (and I have had the pleasure to resell the rights to the same image to an educational company at a further date). They state clearly the procedure for approval, payment, return of artwork etc. They even have the company name and billing information on it!! wow!
So, yucky exchange with the woman where I am like "what do you mean you have NOTHING written and NEVER work with anything contractual?" and she is like "what do you mean you need something written, I NEVER work with anything contractual, YOU are the ONLY one who has asked for this".
I filled out the invoice and the courrier guy came. Again, HE was just some guy with no paperwork, no badge or other id etc. Don't you love it. I had no written demand for the work, no statement from the company what they were paying me. No address I should bill. They say that the invoice serves as transfer of copyright but that it can be sent at an unspecified later date. And ask you to send the artwork without paperwork to some guy who they have called to get it.
Let me say I love Fedex and their paper trail. Comes in extremely handy when deliveries don't arrive. Or are mangled etc.
Let me say I love clients who have professional ways of working with written contracts negotiated and signed before the work is done, or at LEAST fax you something quickly when asked BEFORE you hand over the work.
I have no clue how to deal with these people who have worked for years in a mishmash mess of "hope everything goes ok" and who belittle you (oh, we never do that , but if you insist on acting like princess lala I could scribble something for you to placate you) when you want to do things properly and legally. Can I tell you how many times there have been problems in my career that a clear written contract would have cleared up.
Dang them anyways.
Here is my horoscope for Friday, November 19:
Haha, that doesn't say much about professional snafus does it. I just got my check from the class I taught at the college on Tuesday and they have fuddled that up too... took off employee deductions. Um. not. Dang. More waiting for them to straighten things out and send another check. sigh.
It's ok, it's sunny and nice... it'll be a better day once I get up. hehe.
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Goodbye Michael. May your next life be kinder to you. - Thursday, Jun. 25, 2009
*inspired by Chaosdaily